For those who experience tooth loss, dentures (full and partial) make it easier to chew food, allow a person to eat a wider variety of cuisine and improve appearance. However, many people who wear dentures suffer from a condition called dry mouth.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is a condition in which the salivary glands don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet.
Why is saliva important?
Saliva may seem like water, but it has many important functions. Saliva:
- is part of the immune system, helping to keep the mouth healthy.
- moistens food particles for swallowing.
- makes chewing and speaking more comfortable.
- helps to create suction between dentures and tissues of the mouth, stabilizing replacement teeth.
- acts as a lubricant, preventing irritation that may cause sores from dentures rubbing on the gums.
- assists in reducing bacterial growth.
- regulates germs that cause oral infections.
What causes dry mouth?
Dry mouth results in discomfort for denture wearers, but dentures do not cause dry mouth. Xerostomia is caused by many factors.
- Poor hygiene or unhealthy eating habits may reduce saliva production.
- Medications (blood pressure medicine, decongestants, antidepressants) often have dry mouth as a side effect.
- Habits such as breathing through your mouth, dehydration and using tobacco-related products contribute to dry mouth.
- Systemic illnesses (diabetes, salivary gland tumors, digestive problems, liver dysfunction) result in dry mouth.
- Aging causes our salivary glands to produce less saliva, resulting in dry mouth.
- Radiation Therapy, used to treat cancer, can result in reduced salivary gland function.
- Nerve damage from a head or neck injury can lead to dry mouth as some nerves carry messages between the brain and the salivary glands.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
People who suffer from dry mouth often experience uncomfortable symptoms including:
- Red and parched mouth
- Constant thirst
- Dry, raw feeling in the mouth
- Sore throat
- Inflammation of mouth tissues
- Bad breath
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
- Soreness in the mouth
- Cracking at the corners of the mouth
- Pebbled tongue
- White tongue from bacterial growth
- Decreased ability to taste food
- Bleeding gums
- Increased tooth decay
- Food sticking more to the denture
- A tendency to wake up at night
How do I relieve dry mouth?
Dry mouth makes wearing dentures uncomfortable and eating more difficult. To relieve dryness:
- Sip on water or sugar-free drinks
- Use sugar-free gum or sugar-free sweets
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they dry the mouth
- Avoid tobacco products and recreational drug use
- Avoid dry foods such as bread, crackers and pastries
- Avoid breathing through your mouth
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to save your teeth from bad effects of dry mouth
- Use specially formulated mouthwash or saliva substitute products (rinses, gels, sprays) designed to replace lost saliva.
- Talk to your doctor regarding different options if your medication is contributing to dry mouth.
Alternative treatment options
- Implant-supported dentures don’t rely on suction and adhesives to secure them within the mouth. These dentures are attached to dental implants, which are placed within the jawbone. Implant-supported dentures are comfortable and stable for patients with dry mouth.
- If you’re missing only a few teeth, you can also opt for dental bridges as they are attached to surrounding natural teeth.
Don’t suffer! Address dry mouth symptoms. Talk to your denturist and they can help you determine the best prosthetic solution with a dry mouth or refer you to assist you in finding solutions to the problem.
Experiencing dry mouth? Is dry mouth causing problems with your dentures? South Calgary Denture and Implant Clinic is here to help. We enhance your oral health, aesthetics and way of life. We deliver the best possible treatment after taking the time and care to understand your needs. Our commitment to you is to provide a fast, efficient, and courteous service, with direct billing offered to most insurance providers. We love what we do. It’s who we are! Call us to schedule an appointment.